In just its fourth year of existence as a program, many thought the Burroughs High boys’ volleyball team pulled off a major feat when it tied Claremont for the Pacific League championship in 2010.
The title was the first in program history.
However, this past season, the Indians broke through the ceiling of past success when they put together a monumental campaign. Along with capturing the league crown outright, Burroughs (34-5) also advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division III championship after not getting past the second round previously, and qualified for the state playoffs — another first. In the state tournament, the Indians earned an upset win in the first round.
“With the success we had this season, I think the days of us sneaking up on anybody, or us playing the underdog role, are over,” said Burroughs Coach Joel Brinton, who has guided the program since it inception in 2007. “People kind of know us now.”
With the success came a glut of All-Pacific League honors, nine in all.
Leading the way were senior brothers Tyler and Lucas Yanez, who were voted co-players of the year. Tyler, a setter, and Lucas, an outside hitter, were driving forces for the Indians this season, on and off the court.
Tyler, the 2010 All-Area Player of the Year, earned the top honor after sharing it as well last season.
Brinton said because the brothers were both equally vital to the success of the program, he wondered how his idea of proposing co-players of the year would go over with his fellow Pacific League coaches.
“At first I was a little nervous to bring it up,” he said. “But when I did that, there was no argument at all from the other coaches. They were all ‘Yep, that sounds like a good idea.’ I think they realized how much both of them meant to our program. They were really key players for us, and they both stepped up when we needed them.”
Tyler, who was an All-CIF third-team selection a year ago, finished the season with 837 assists, breaking his own school record of 722 set last year. He had 51 assists in a league match against Claremont. He ended his career with a record 2,079 assists. He also had 37 blocks and 27 aces.
Lucas tallied 195 kills, with a season-high of 20 coming against South Torrance in the semifinals of the playoffs. He finished his career with 660 kills, setting the Burroughs all-time mark. In addition, he had 256 digs (No. 1 all time) and 61 aces (another school record).
Making the first team for the Indians was junior middle Ike Nwachie and sophomore opposite Daniel Jacobs. Nwachie tallied 201 kills, 49 blocks and set a school record for hitting percentage in a season with a .510. Jacobs set a new school record with 253 kills, besting Lucas’ tally of 234 in 2010.
Earning second-team accolades for the Indians were junior middle Robbie Rutecki (204 kills, 49 blocks), senior outside hitter Justin Llamas (191 digs) and sophomore libero Derrick Nicandro. Senior defensive specialist Luis Orozco was an honorable-mention pick.
“We got all of our starters on the team,” said Brinton, who was voted the league’s coach of the year. “That’s real special.”
Crescenta Valley had three all-league representatives and Glendale had one.
Crescenta Valley senior outside hitter Logan Shapiro was named to the first team, while teammate Mitch Collins, a senior setter, was named to the second team. Shapiro finished with 182 kills and a team-leading 64 digs and .308 hitting percentage.
Crescenta Valley Coach John Nelson, whose team finished 11-15 and 3-5 in league for fourth place, said Shapiro provided the Falcons with stability.
“We played a tough schedule and his leadership was big for us,” Nelson said. “Some teams just couldn’t stop him and he went out there and did everything he could do to help the team.”
Collins also helped spark the Falcons offense, as he finished with 635 assists.
“His work habits were the big thing,” Nelson said. “He’s easy to coach and he leads by example.
“You never have to tell him what to do. By the end of the year, he understood exactly where to put the ball.”
Also receiving honorable mention were Crescenta Valley junior middle blocker Wesley Cormier and Glendale junior outside hitter Regan Ornopia.
Cormier collected 186 kills, 44 blocks and 23 aces.